Clinics that treat sexually transmitted diseases, already struggling to handle a huge increase in infections such as syphilis and gonorrhea, now find themselves near the frontlines in the new fight to control the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak in the U.S.
How are they coping with a new viral threat? And what do Michigan residents need to know about the spread of monkeypox at this time? One medical professional who is on the frontlines of the fight to contain monkeypox is Dr. Shira Heisler, medical director of the Detroit Public Health STD Clinic.
“This outbreak is the biggest [one] globally that we’ve seen of monkeypox historically,” Heisler says.
“I want to be adamantly clear: This is not a ‘gay disease.’ No virus or bacteria cares what gender or sexuality you are, but how viruses and bacteria spread is commonly through networks.” —Dr. Shira Heisler, Detroit Public Health STD Clinic
She says it’s important to stress that while the virus, both in the U.S. and in Detroit, has so far been traced to what’s called “close encounters” at places like bathhouses, saunas and small spaces that cater to late-night crowds, like dance clubs, the transmission of monkeypox is not limited to sexual activity.
“We know right now that [monkeypox is] sexually associated … around 97% of the cases we’ve seen are from men who have sex with other men. I want to be adamantly clear: This is not a ‘gay disease.’ No virus or bacteria cares what gender or sexuality you are, but how viruses and bacteria spread is commonly through networks.”
Listen: Michigan doctor talks how you can prevent transmission of monkeypox.